"Infinity" has its highs and lows

Feb. 13, 2007, midnight | By Julia Mazerov | 15 years, 9 months ago

Latest from Fall Out Boy experiments more with instrumentals than lyrics

Their lyrics aren't poignant, make little sense, and often contain less content than their song titles. But there is something so catchy about Fall Out Boy's pop-punk ballads that allow this Chicago native band to cling to the "guilty pleasure" category for many listeners. Their latest installment, "Infinity on High," released on Feb. 6, is choc' full of witty titles and nonsensical stanzas. Fortunately, what lead bassist/lyricist Peter Wentz lacks in lyrical genius, he makes up for with spectacular instrumental collaborations with lead guitarist Jon Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley. Lead singer Patrick Stump's smooth and booming vocals complete this soulful sundae with a cherry on top.

Now, raise your hand if you had heard of Fall Out Boy before their hit "Sugar, We're Going Down" flooded radio stations. (Or, for all you guys out there, before "Dance, Dance" hit the Madden soundtrack.) Didn't think so. The album opener, "Thriller," attests to just that, with lyrics like "Last summer we took threes across the board/but by fall we were a cover story/now in stores/make us poster boys in the scene."

"Thriller" also contains a most surprising guest—Jay-Z. Usually, a duet with "HOV"—undoubtedly a reigning king of hip-hop—is a tell-tale sign for success. (Enter Jay-Z and Linkin Park's Numb/Encore partnership, and Beyonce's Crazy in Love.) Strangely, "Thriller" utilizes only Jay-Z's motivational speaking skills with a heartfelt tribute to Fall Out Boy's fans at the beginning of the song. And that's it for Jay-Z on that track and the rest of the album. Kind of makes you wonder what the point was. After all, it's not as though Jay-Z has much extra time on his hands to make speaking appearances. Nevertheless, "Thriller's" senseless but catchy chorus manifests the song as one of the strongest on the album.

Despite their increasing fame, Fall Out Boy manages to stray from the trend of singing about stardom upon reaching it. (Think Good Charlotte's "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.") Like their sophomore album "From Under the Cork Tree," "Infinity on High" includes songs about teenage angst that lament about false friends and recall good times. "Thanks for the Memories" completes the latter, crying, "One night and one more time/thanks for the memories/even though they weren't so great/he tastes like you only sweeter." You think the song will have a generally happy message, but then in true Fall Out Boy fashion, there's still a twinge of "emo." "Thanks for the Memories" reaches new heights instrumentally, with a unique opening reminiscent of an entrance song for a grand army. This busy piano and trumpet piece transforms into a plethora of guitar strums and loud drumming, much like the other songs on the album.

"Bang the Doldrums" is arguably the catchiest song on the album, covering a grand scheme of topics. The song addresses fake friends ("Best friends/ex -friends tell the end/better off as lovers/and not the other way around"), and snatches some inspiration from the ever-so-morbid My Chemical Romance with "The tombstones were waiting/they were half-engraved/they knew it was over/just didn't know the date." A likable chorus of "woahs" and "ohs" balances the gloomy lyrics, pleasing all members of FOB's audience.

On an album composed mostly of hit-or-misses but primarily hits, "Golden" is undoubtedly the biggest miss. It's a slow, whiny, tiresome track—the only of its kind on all three of FOB's albums. Stump just doesn't have the voice for slow songs, and it's as though the "skip track" button is calling your name. Among other "misses" on the album are "You're Crashing, But You're no Wave," whose title is unfortunately the best aspect of the song, and "The (After) Life of the Party," whose soft instrumentals mimic those of The Postal Service but lack the lyrics to patent it a hit.

On that note, the track sure to be the next hit single is "Hum Hallelujah." With lyrics that will undeniably appeal to FOB's primary audience of teenage girls: "So hum hallelujah/just off the key of reason/I thought I loved you/it's just how you looked in the light/a teenage vow in the parking lot/til' tonight do us part," and lengthy chorus of "hallelujah's" accompanied by guitar, this track is the best to rock out to.

And let's not forgot the first hit single to catapult off of this album, "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race." Much like Panic! At the Disco's use of synthesizers and strange instruments such as the Vaudevillian piano, "This Ain't a Scene…" has a much more futuristic sound than FOB has brought us in the past. It's definitely not the best song on the album, however, just as "Dance, Dance" was one of "From Under the Cork Tree's" worst, yet still became a hit single. In "Infinity on High," FOB embraces many different genres, and ventures out from its ordinary display of instrumentals, allowing for those less-flashy but still catchy tracks to have a chance at fame.

"Infinity on High," though a step down from 2001's "From Under the Cork Tree," still provides listeners with an eclectic mix of instruments, beats, and new identities. So whatever they're calling themselves at the moment: arms dealers, therapists, or preachers; Fall Out Boy is still the same old foursome with those songs that everyone secretly loves.

Download these: Bang the Doldrums, Thanks for the Memories, Hum Hallelujah

Julia Mazerov. Julia: -is a SEENIORRRR -is obsessed with Entourage -makes to-do lists like it's her job -takes naps a lot -is a riflery pro -goes to lots of concerts -has a weakness for cute tote bags, Starbucks Java Chip Ice Cream, and Kate Harter More »

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